Review by SoulEraser

"Wow, you sure look hot, but my friends say you're to shallow..."

Namco has always made sure that their games are original in design, appeal to the audience and most of all unique. Their Tekken and Soul Calibur series become more and more refined with every release. However, refinement is a long process and it just doesn't happen overnight. That's why when Tekken 4 hit the arcades fans rejoiced when they saw that the game got a real 3D face lift. Most importantly, Tekken 4 allowed players to not only utilize their actual skills in the game but also how well you use your environment. Trees, cars, telephone booths, barriers and unique level design allowed fans to take advantage of the playing field. Many characters also received minor tweaking and even the addition of a new fighting styles made Tekken 4 more about intellectual skill than actual gaming skills. Tekken 4 was refined in it's design, in it's gameplay and unique in it's character design. Then came Tekken 5 which is refined in it's graphics, but everthing else seems rather underwhelming for Namco. As we continue on keep in mind that I am not trying to persuade you to side along with me. You have your opinion and I have mine so lets just leave it at that.

Graphically, Tekken 5 knocks it's predecessor, Tekken 4, out of the ball park. Everything is highly detailed and minor details, like moving pants and hoodies, actually move. Namco really payed close attention and offered the fans real life-like details. Stages are fixed with beautiful lighting and dimming effects that really show off what the PS2 can pull off. Characters mesh well with the stages and can even effect stage objects to an extent. When characters hit the floor they actually cause the floor to crack. This was used in Virtua Fighter 4 except the floor damage was permanent until the next round. As soon as you crack the floor in Tekken 5 another crack in another area will cause the crack prior to dissapear. It's minor but I can't help but pay attention to it everytime I knock my oppenent down to see my first crack just vanish into thin air.

I want to continue on personally about the stages in Tekken 5. While they are pretty this is where it ends. Stages no longer have the interactive feel that they once had in Tekken 4. You cannot push your opponent into a telephone booth, tree or statue anymore. Stages are impressive in design but are ugly in their refinement. There's nothing new about any of the stages that were not in previous Tekken's. They lack any real thought to actually improve on this game whatsoever. It's a shame too since Tekken 4 had excellent stages- no other game put so much effort or concept into stage design than Tekken 4 did. All of the stages in Tekken 5 are pretty but shallow as they come. There are wide stages and infinite stages and nothing else.

The sound and music in the game has your usual "argh" and "thump" sounds. Law still makes the same sounds, King still makes the same sounds... pretty much everyone still makes the same sounds with the exception of Nina. New sound samples were done for her character. In any case, the sounds are kinda boring and don't really and on anything new like they did in Tekken 4(Breaking glass, splashing sounds, engines roaring, people talking and the like). Tekken 5 seemed to have recycled most of the sounds from Tekken 4 and didn't really do anything new... but the graphics are pretty. Music wise, Tekken 5 is much more worse than Tekken 3's music. Some people may say that the music in Tekken was never that good but I disagree(Shinjuku and Airport are still my favorites). Anyway, the music is really uninspiring in the sense that it tries to make everything either too dramatic or too hardcore. The whole thug music wasn't really getting me in the mood to fight and neither does fighting with penguins. (Anyone like Poolside let me know).

What can I say about the gameplay? Well, it no longer has you interacting with your surroundings anymore so it's pretty much what you'd expect in terms of a fighting game. You have your character that kicks, fast ones that are weak, lot's of combo's and juggles. I was glad that the juggling system was tweaked in terms of reaction to certain moves. For example, hitting a juggled opponent with Nina's LP-RP-RK will cause them to spin furiously. Or hitting them with any down motion move immediately brings them back to earth. So for the juggling fans out there Namco really refined their system to make sure it fit as if it were reacting to real life physics.

Probably the worst part about gameplay is the characters. Now many of the old characters did get new moves to add to their array of attacks while some don't react too well to their old combo's (Steve's Wildman Combo-Flicker Stance is one that comes into mind). But the one thing that just shoves this series into the pretty but shallow isle is because of the returning roster of characters from Tekken 2. Asuka, Feng, Raven and Jinpachi (ugh) are the only new characters to this installation of Tekken(I don't count Jack since he was already in the first Tekken). The rest are recycled characters or recycled fighting styles from Tekken 2. Asuka's fighthing style is similar to that of Jun's in Tekken 2. Raven is a ninja whose looks bare a similarity to actor and lover of Asian women Wesley Snipes Blade character. Feng uses a form of Chinese Kenpo and everyone who you saw in Tekken 2 fights exactly the same way they did years ago with minor tweaks of course. For this reason Tekken 5 is a really pretty game that is below Namco's standard of fighting games. I believe that they were quick to bring Tekken 5 out and that recycling used characters is a form of laziness and a cheap trick to make players think they are getting an entirely new and different fighting game. I used these characters before and I have already seen this fighting style before. Why bring it back now? Now I'm not knocking the new guys because they're great with the exception of Asuka. Raven could have been better but I believe that with future additions he'll become a well liked character that is properly seasoned with the right spices. You can recycle in real life but the process is ugly, boring and really obtuse once it comes into a game. Tekken 5 is unfortunate enough to be that game...but the graphics are HOT!!!!

My point is that Tekken 5 could have been so much better if they would have put a lot more ingenuity into it. It hasn't really been anything new and elements that made it new are gone and replaced with excellent graphics. The same flaw that DKC had for the SNES, all glamour and no gameplay, is the exact same flaw Tekken 5 has. Either Namco is running out of ideas or companies are just taking advantage of the shallow minds of many of it's fans and that's just wrong... it's just wrong. And it's really sad too because it says a lot about how we are as a society and the way people are going to treat us. And in this case many people are going to get taken advantage of.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 03/14/05

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